So this week was pretty interesting for me, as I happened to get sick last Friday. I always get run down by the end of the school week after being so tired, and I thought I just had a cold and didn’t worry about it all weekend. That’s when Monday hit, I barely slept after coughing and sneezing all night, and I lost my voice. Being sick made me miss Monday and Tuesday of Design Lab this week, and I am just now getting my voice back… Trying to talk in school all last week was a nightmare because I either sounded like a 50 year old smoker or I couldn’t talk at all, and it was really hard to work in groups as no one could really understand me.
Besides all of that fun stuff, this week of Design Lab was fun as we took the information the class gathered during the interviews last week to make prototypes of our redesigned classrooms! We got split up into four groups, with two focusing on the students’ needs and two focusing on the teacher’s needs. I walked in on Wednesday to find my group was basically done designing an adorable classroom focused towards the students, and besides being really confused at first I did make some of my own contributions! We really focused on making the room inviting and inspiring, so we used lots of colors and made sure to incorporate nice lighting. We had fairy lights and lights within the round tables for students to use, mostly just to make the room more comfortable and personal. My group also made the foam cubes my teacher loves, along with couches in a safe space for students to relax in. Our final touch was adding more vertical writing space and getting objects up off of the floor, as seen through shelving on the walls for books and projects to go instead of in cabinets or in bulky furniture. This opened the room up, and gave it more space for creativity. We even added small decorative flowers to the tables for detail, but they obviously don’t have to be there in the final design.
After the class was done presenting each of their prototypes, we all had a lot of the same basic ideas of what a classroom needs. Everyone brought up the foam cubes we’re just dying to have, but there were also some similarities I didn’t expect to see. Every group had some sort of bookshelf in their design, which was obvious since our classroom is also used for English, but a couple of the groups made their bookshelves have a dual purpose. One design made the bookshelf be able to move with a blackboard on the back of it, while another design had filing cabinets on the back of the bookshelf for more storage. Almost everyone addressed the ideas of Mr. Heidt and the class as a whole needing a better organizational system, which most of the time included extra cabinets or shelving. Lots of the furniture we designed was very versatile and had wheels so they could move easily, and a movable podium for teaching was no exception. Vertical writing spaces were a huge theme as well, and I loved the idea one group had of having semi-circle tables that could combine together for group discussions.There weren’t many outliers to all of these ideas, but one thing that wasn’t huge in many designs was a safe place for students, and I think that would be really important.
What I’d keep from all of these prototypes are the ideas of organization, versatility and purposefulness of furniture, the need for writing space, and extra room around the classroom to move. Also, the classroom needs to be comfortable, whether its laces to sit or work at or even the lighting and decor. Bookshelves, foam cubes, safe places, and things with wheels seem to be important to us, and from here I think the class should just sit down and talk about what we really need versus what isn’t a necessity. Mr. Heidt said something along the lines that “in design less is more”, and having everyone talk about what we want would be good. Even presenting these ideas to the English students would be awesome, because then we could understand if our ideas are functional for a traditional class, too. There are more English students than there are Design Lab students, and listening to their ideas is really important.